Audience Design? Part of the Production Process
Films are written, financed, produced, shot, post-produced. Before they end up on screen, film projects take part in many co-production markets.
One day, all going well, they might be invited to one or more film festivals. They may win prizes. Sometimes they are bought by distributors and shown in cinemas in several countries or just a few or even none. Perhaps they are seen online, on demand, or on TV...
Is there a direct relationship between the quality of a film and its success in the cinema or other channels? Not necessarily.
Does taking part in a festival run guarantee successful distribution? What about winning festival prizes - Bears, Lions and Palms? Even then, the connection between a good film and its audience is not guaranteed.
What to do, as a producer or director of a film from a WCF funding region who has to fight for the film even to be seen?
As is the case today for all films: the future audience needs to be considered very early on in the filmmaking process. During or even before the shoot until post-production. Audience design has to be part of the production, it has become an integral part of the whole production chain.
The WCF therefore does its best to offer audience design strategies for WCF funded films, in order to ensure these films are seen.
WCF Audience Design Strategies
It’s about taking a multi-layered and wide-ranging approach. The film’s identity and potential must be carefully considered. Planning for a film’s future audience, or different audiences and audience structures, must take place with its international and local context in mind.
The WCF wants to accompany its films as they go through this process. The film industry’s changing worldwide scenario and a complex audience structure require this work. New production formats, countless distribution options – it’s also about the future of the shared experience of cinema and making its existence possible in future.
We started this discussion in 2019 at the WCF Day. Now the debate is intensifying. As a pilot, we have accompanied a WCF funded film through this process. Alongside the Torino Film Lab, the film Las Mil y Una (which had its world premiere at this year’s Berlinale in the Panorama section) benefitted from an intensive four-day audience building/audience design workshop.
This measure is now being formalised with a tailor-made offer for films that are funded through our WCF Europe programme in 2020. At the first jury meeting of the year, the WCF jury will award a film recommended for production funding with an additional WCF – TorinoFilmLab Audience Design Award. With this funding, the film will then take part in an intensive four-day audience design workshop in September of the same year.
Our goal is to continue to address this challenge and develop various funding strategies and formats which will eventually be included in the WCF funding programme, which will benefit from localised knowledge and experience in WCF regions.